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National Agriculture in the Classroom

Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix

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Lesson Plans (10)

A Tale of Two Burgers: Beef and Plant-based Protein

Students compare the components of beef and plant-based burgers by determining the production and processing methods of each product; evaluate the ingredients and nutritional differences between beef and plant-based products; and discuss different points of view in the agricultural industry concerning plant-based proteins and traditional beef. This lesson covers a socioscientific issue and aims to provide students with tools to evaluate science within the context of social and economic points of view. Grades 9-12

Before the Plate

Students view the 2018 documentary Before the Plate and follow Canadian chef John Horne as he journeys to the source of ten primary food ingredients used in his restaurant. Using critical thinking skills, students will explore the farm-to-table journey of food. This lesson covers a socioscientific issue and aims to provide students with tools to evaluate science within the context of social and economic points of view. Grades 9-12

Evaluating Perspectives About GMOs

While many view bioengineered crops (GMOs) as a promising innovation, there is controversy about their use. This lesson provides students with a brief overview of the technology, equipping them with the ability to evaluate the social, environmental, and economic arguments for and against bioengineered crops (GMOs). This lesson covers a socioscientific issue and aims to provide students with tools to evaluate science within the context of social and economic points of view. Grades 9-12


Students will view the film Farmland, a documentary spotlighting six farmers and ranchers in the United States. The film portrays the business and lifestyle of a variety of farmers and ranchers. Perspectives on topics such as bioengineered (GMO) crops, animal welfare, organic and conventional farming practices, farm size, farming stereotypes, and more are presented. Grades 9-12

Food Evolution

Students will view the documentary Food Evolution to evaluate the polarized debate surrounding bioengineering (GMOs). In this film director, Scott Hamilton Kennedy travels from Hawaiian papaya groves to Ugandan banana farms, to cornfields in Iowa to document how agricultural technology can be used in such varied crop settings. This lesson covers a socioscientific issue and aims to provide students with tools to evaluate science within the context of social and economic points of view. Grades 9-12

Food: Going the Distance

Students calculate the miles common food items travel from the farm to their plates and discuss the environmental, social, and economic pros and cons of eating local vs relying on a global marketplace for our food. Grades 9-12

Global Food Security

Students will explore the causes of hunger, both domestically and globally; evaluate potential solutions for solving world hunger; and forecast the impact of a growing world population on current food supplies. Grades 9-12

Kiss the Ground

Students will view the documentary Kiss the Ground to consider the concept of regenerative agriculture as a tool to improve soil health and overall environmental sustainability.

Pig Power: Creating Biogas and Renewable Energy

After exploring the science of energy and energy conversion, students will evaluate some environmental impacts of hog farming and explore technologies that minimize negative human impact by creating biogas energy from animal waste. Grades 9-12

Soil and Sustainability (Grades 9-12)

Students observe soil ecosystems to investigate how human impact affects the biodiversity of soils using the Simpson's Index of Diversity. Then, students conduct an investigation using field corn to determine how the introduction of nitrogen fertilizers impact soil microorganisms and biodiversity. Grades 9-12

Companion Resources (13)

Have a Ball - Your Sphere of Influence
Do you have a complicated issue or problem to discuss with your students? Use a beach ball (or any other type of ball) to demonstrate why a person might have a different "point of view." This activity helps students recognize that every issue can be seen from different points of view.
Climate Change: The Water Paradigm
This video explores why maintaining a healthy water cycle may be much more important for the health of the climate than people realize. In case you are wondering, it's not suggesting that the greenhouse effect due to CO2 or methane is insignificant. But prompts a consideration that the importance of the water cycle has been grossly under-emphasized, and should occupy a more central position in environmental discourse.
Give it a Minute: Organic & Conventional Farming
Do you know the difference between organic and conventional (non-organic) foods? In one minute this video explains the differences and similarities in how these foods are produced on the farm.
Growing Today for Tomorrow
Farmers have the biggest job on earth. The population is increasing — yet farmland isn't — so farmers have taken on the responsibility of producing more high-quality crops with fewer resources. This 3.5-minute video illustrates the remarkable improvements that have been made in agricultural efficiency and productivity while bringing home the challenges that the future holds. The attention-grabbing message makes for a great introduction to any lesson on agricultural production or careers in agriculture. 
How Are GMOs Created?
Use this 5-minute video to illustrate the complete process for developing a GMO through the scientific method and research. The Hawaiian papaya story is used as an example for resolving the papaya ring spot virus that had devastated the crop until a GMO variety was developed. Researchers and farmers turned to the development of GMOs as early as 1985 to improve the quality of plants to resist insects and disease while battling problems in production. 
How CRISPR Lets You Edit DNA
Explore the science of the groundbreaking technology for editing genes, called CRISPR- Cas9. Discover how the tool could be used to cure diseases.
How Can CRISPR Improve Food?
Learn how CRISPR gene editing is being studied and implemented to improve food. This form of gene editing holds promising applications to cure diseases and improve food. Can allergenic proteins in foods be removed? Can cassava be engineered to remove the cyanide responsible for growth stunting in malnourished children?
Vertical Farming video
Use this 4-minute video to explore the benefits and challenges to vertical farming systems which utilize hydroponics to grow plants. Can the land and water conservation advantages outweigh the cost of creating artificial light?
What is Regenerative Agriculture?
Regenerative agriculture is an effective way to restore biodiversity and stabilize the climate, but what exactly is it? This video explores three different regenerative practices that have great potential both in food production and in healing the land.
What is Sustainable Agriculture?
A video series highlighting common practices farmers and ranchers use to improve profitability, qualify of life, and environmental stewardship.
Why are GMOs Bad?
This video clip provides a brief, but comprehensive introduction to GMOs. The video defines what a GMO is, the history of genetic engineering, how GMOs are created, what traits genetically modified crops exhibit, how traditional plant breeding differs from genetic engineering and how all methods of plant breeding have been used to improve crops through the years. 
Teacher Reference
Genetically Modified Food: Good, Bad, Ugly
Review this article to hear multiple perspectives on the issue of GMOs. Why do some fear the technology while others believe it is a solution to many challenges in food production?
GMO Answers
GMO Answers is an educational website to answer your questions about GMO's, or Genetically Modified Organisms. You will find infographics, images, videos, posters, and handouts to use as learning tools.